[linux-elitists] GPL and binary distribution

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Mon Apr 16 16:15:41 PDT 2001

on Mon, Apr 16, 2001 at 02:37:30PM -0700, Greg KH (greg@wirex.com) wrote:
> In discussions today with a manager at place I work (no names here, but
> it's probably obvious...) the argument was raised (yet again) that once
> we compile a GPL program, we can limit the distribution of that binary
> version (and since we use a different version of the gcc compiler from
> everyone else, our binaries are unique from everyone else's.)

You can restrict your distribution of the program.

You can restrict your section 3 obligations to "any third party" source
distribution by distributing sources with binaries when you do

You *cannot* restrict third party distribution of a GPL'd work.


    Company W modifies and compiles modified version of program A under
    GPL.  Company W distributes A to company X, and only X, along with
    both binary and source of A, under the GPL.

    X now distributes A to Y, under the GPL.  This is their right.

W's alternatives here are limited.  Legally, W cannot retaliate and
require restriction of distribution of A.  W *may* choose not to
cooperate with X in future, however A's distribution and propogation are
ensured by the GPL.

> Originally their argument was claiming that we could assert copyright on
> that binary version, but Steve Beattie (also on this list) made the very
> good point that a binary is a derived work, and hence you can't
> arbitrary claim copyright of it.

You can add your copyright claim to those of other authors.  You cannot
make an exclusive claim of copyright on the work.  The prior authors'
copyrights remain.

> So what I'm looking for is anything that either refutes the argument
> that we can limit the distribution of a binary version of a GPL program,
> or that supports it (I really am not looking for arguments to back up
> his point, but in fairness, and the fact that I'm afraid he's correct,
> I'll accept it :)

Hope this helps.  If you have additional questions, you might look at
the OSI's license-discuss list, or contact RMS or Eben Moglen directly.

IANAL, this is not legal advice.

Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>    http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/         http://www.kuro5hin.org
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